9 Jun 2024

First Wave: Celebrating surfing in Kaikōura

From Culture 101, 12:30 pm on 9 June 2024
First Wave - Kaikoura Museum

First Wave - Kaikoura Museum Photo: Supplied

Stephanie Lange - Kaikoura Museum Manager

Stephanie Lange - Kaikoura Museum Manager Photo: Supplied

Kaikōura is celebrating 60 years of surfing in a new long-term exhibition at their museum Wharenga - First Wave. Known for whale watching, wildlife and its beautiful coastline, the surfing history of the small town on Te Wai Pounamu’s East Coast hasn’t been as well known or well-documented until now. 

Some of the first surfers started in the 1960s, travelling up from Christchurch. Some have since retired in Kaikōura. Collaborating with professional surf photographers, historians, designers, and pioneer and local surfers, the museum has pulled together an interactive multimedia homage. 

GNS and NIWA have created 3D models and wave simulations of local surf breaks to explain the attraction of Kaikōura as a prime surfing spot. The museum hopes it’ll appeal to all, combining surfing culture, science, and mātauranga Māori - exploring these elements and the connections between them. 

It’s a change of pace for the museum which has had to largely focus on the town’s earthquake recovery and Covid-19 in the past seven years. It’s hoped it will give visitors another reason to stay longer in town. 

Kaikōura museum manager, Stephanie Lange, spoke to Culture 101’s Perlina Lau.